What Do Referring Providers Want?


Partnering healthcare providers look for – and value – six main things from radiology.

Have you ever wondered exactly what it is that your referring providers want from or appreciate about your radiology services? Chances are, that’s not a question you have ever asked. As it turns out, though, there are certain things these clinicians would like to see.

While there is no overwhelming consensus of what all referring providers would prefer from radiology, a research team from Stanford University’s radiology department discovered there are six points these doctors would like you to remember. They based their results on a 7-question online survey that yielded 349 responses from providers in urgent, specialty, emergency, and primary care. They published their findings in the June 30 American Journal of Roentgenology.

“The findings suggest that no single universal ideal radiology practice model likely exists,” said study authors David Larson, M.D., MBA, radiology professor, and Gloria Hwang, M.D., interventional radiologist, “but, rather that radiology practices should tailor the focus of their services according to the specific types of referring providers they serve.”

Survey responses were submitted anonymously, and, according to Larson and Hwang, they included 205 specialty providers, 81 primary care providers, and 54 emergency and urgent care providers. Six main areas of value emerged from their answers.

Communication: As always, this is key across the board. Participants from all healthcare areas indicated they place a high value on being able to interact directly with you.

Reliance: This is particularly important for primary care physicians. They indicated a heavier reliance on your interpretations than specialists. In many cases, specialist and urgent care providers reported a higher comfort in analyzing images themselves.

Breadth: Primary care physicians, as well as urgent care providers, are also more likely to utilize the myriad of imaging studies available. This is less common among other providers.

Speed: Turnaround time is of higher importance for emergency care and urgent care clinicians than it is for primary care physicians. Still primary providers value speed more than specialists.

Frequency: You can expect more requests for imaging from urgent care providers than any other clinicians.

Specialization: While specialists might not take as much advantage of the breadth of imaging available, they do gravitate more to sub-specialization imaging options than any of the other providers surveyed.

Ultimately, Larson and Hwang said, these six factors show that the value of radiology can be specifically tied to the healthcare audience it serves.

“This implies that an important aspect of value of diagnostic radiology is to be found in the degree to which individual radiology practices adhere to basic time-honored principles of engaging with local referring providers, understanding their specific needs, and working to effectively and consistently meet those needs through excellent skill and service,” they said.

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